January 14, 2016
by Mark Carson
New this year is the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M with a ceramic bezel (hands-on here in more versions). While it’s also available in other colorways, the blue and black of this particular reference seemed perfectly suited to the blue skies and deep blue ocean surrounding Maui. There is a lot to like about this watch, and of course, a few things TAG might improve upon. I’ve worn this TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M watch every day for over a week now, and it’s both good-looking and comfortable, so it’s become a welcome companion.
Sporting a blue ceramic bezel, a screw down crown, and 1000 feet of water resistance, this TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M is at home in the ocean SCUBA diving, surfing, or just going for a swim. The unidirectional 120-click bezel has lume on the index pip. I found the “decking” pattern on the dial quite attractive and rather nautical. There is a magnifier over the date at 3 which my old eyes welcomed. It does make the hands a bit less readable but that’s always the case with a cyclops. Speaking of readability, overall legibility is very good.
However, the blue seconds hand sort of gets lost with the black dial in some lighting conditions. You may have to spot the lumed tip to see the passing seconds. And there are a lot of shiny elements on this TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M watch – the hour markers, the hands, the bezel, and the sides of the case. Plus the flat sapphire crystal and the lovely, but shiny, blue bezel reflect light very strongly at the right (wrong?) angle. And the case, bezel, and crystal all show my grimy finger prints, so I’m frequently wiping the watch to keep it shiny and purdy lookin’.
The lume on the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M is blue with green on the tips of the hands and outboard on the 12, 3, 6, and 9 hour markers. The lume is quite good, and the intensity on the hour makers is the same brightness as the hands (which is not the case with all watches).
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M’s black nylon sail cloth strap has blue stitching which compliments the blue bezel and seconds hand. And the strap is very comfortable due to its blue rubber underside. Again, a nice color match with the rest of the watch. The strap does not have pin holes as the deployant clasp clamps to any position you select. The release is via pressing the 2 side buttons on the clasp. It’s a very comfortable and highly functional strap and buckle combination.
Screwing off the case back reveals what TAG calls its “Caliber 5” movement. In this case, a Sellita SW 200 (an ETA 2824 clone). In my testing, this reliable workhorse automatic was accurate from -5 to +1 seconds per day (over all 6 positions). While not a formal or complete timing test, this cursory testing showed this particular TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M to be well within COSC chronometer specs. I was a little surprised to see a plastic movement holder, but it obviously is doing the job. The nicely engraved, solid screw-in case back is decorated with a diver’s helmet engraving.
Coming back to TAG Heurer’s “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” slogan, it is dead-on true in the case of Kai Lenny and his TAG Heurer Aquaracer 300M. The surfer and the watch did not crack under pressure – but a couple of his beefy “big gun” surfboards literally cracked and broke in two under the relentless pounding of Jaws.
Noted water sports photographer Tom Servais has photographed surfing greats around the world for decades. He stopped by when we were visiting the Lenny home on Maui, and he had an interesting watch story to tell. The strap failed on his TAG Heuer watch while shooting in big waves in Fiji a couple of years back. He knew where the watch went down but with the huge surf, there was no chance to go looking for it. He mentioned the lost watch to a friend of his in Fiji when he got to shore. And sure enough, the TAG was spotted 6 months later wedged in the coral exactly where Tom reported it MIA. Since the Fijians knew whose watch it was, Tom was able to get his trusty TAG Heuer watch back the next time he went to Fiji. He just cleaned it up a bit and put on a new strap. Being underwater for half a year didn’t phase it a bit.
The new TAG Heurer Aquaracer 300M watches are available with both nylon sailcloth straps and stainless steel bracelets in a number of color schemes. And there is a reference with a black titanium case as well. Prices range from $2,400 to $3,000. us.tagheuer.com
>Brand: TAG Heuer
>Model: Aquaracer 300M ref. WAY211B.FC6363
>Movement: Caliber 5 (Sellita SW 200)
>Water Resistance: 300 Meters / 1000 Feet
>Case: 41mm Stainless Steel with Screw-down Crown
>Crystal: Flat Sapphire with Anti-Reflective Coating and Date Magnifier
>Bezel: Ceramic 120-Click Unidirectional
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone looking for a dive watch from a well-known Swiss brand.
>Best characteristic of watch: Attractive looks, excellent timekeeping, comfortable strap, ceramic bezel.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Too shiny, and a fingerprint magnet. The seconds hand is sometimes hard to see. Lots of competition in this price segment.